Tom Verducci: ‘Wainwright Can’t Be Replaced Come October’

After violent protests erupted Monday afternoon in Baltimore, Major League Baseball postponed that evening’s game between the Orioles and the visiting Chicago White Sox.

Tensions arose following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died in police custody April 19 in yet another controversial encounter between police and racial minorities. Monday’s game, originally slated for 7:05 p.m. ET, was canceled less than one hour before the scheduled first pitch, as rioting, looting and arson spread throughout the city.

“Listen, that kind of lawlessness, it’s not just sad; it’s frightening,” Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports MLB analyst Tom Verducci said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think it’s a small part of it, but it has to be frightening for Major League Baseball as well. It’s such a fluid situation that the last thing you want to do is react too quickly. I think erring on the side of being conservative – even if it means another day of no games – no one’s going to argue that that’s the wrong thing to do of being ultra conservative.”

The initial chaos began in Northwest Baltimore – roughly four miles from Camden Yards – but was not contained in that part of the city. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had seemingly no choice but to cancel the game, and Verducci believes he made the right call.

“Yeah, I do,” he said. “I don’t even think that the law-enforcement authorities in Baltimore have their hands around this yet – and to that extent, it’s unpredictable. It is such a fluid situation. It seems to be moving, at least from what I’ve been seeing, in different areas of the city. It doesn’t seem to be a contained situation, if you will. It almost has the feeling of one of the wild fires you see some of the video (of) from out West where, depending on which way the wind blows, an area could be in danger at any moment. So again, I think an abundance of caution is totally in place here for Major League Baseball. I’m sure they’re working very closely with the law-enforcement authorities.”

No decision has been made on Tuesday’s game, which is slated for 6:05 p.m. ET.

Switching gears a bit, baseball saw arguably its first major injury of the season, as Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright tore his left Achilles while batting during a 5-3 road win over the Brewers on Saturday. He is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Where does St. Louis go from here?

“Well, I think they’re going to be patient,” Verducci said. “Their pitching has been lights out in the first month of the season, and they do have – when he’s healthy – Marco Gonzales, who a lot of people think would be in anybody’s rotation if not for the abundance of pitchers that the Cardinals do have. So I think they’re okay short-term.

“My concern would be not having Adam Wainwright in a postseason environment,” Verducci continued. “I know I’m looking ahead a few months, but the Cardinals do look like they’re a postseason team to me. And you saw last year, if you match up Wainwright with a Clayton Kershaw – or anybody – (you can win). I think with his veteran leadership, he’s handled all those situations.”

Wainwright, as you may recall, got the last out of the NLCS and the World Series in 2006.

“That can’t be replaced,” Verducci said. “You can have guys who have decent stuff or really good stuff, but when you get farther down the road – and maybe even in September playing meaningful games – (that’s) where the loss of Wainwright really comes into play. But for right now, I do think that that pitching staff has enough depth that they can carry this loss for awhile and still be a really good team.”

The Cardinals (12-6) enter Tuesday with a one-game lead over the Cubs (11-7) in the NL Central.

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